After a thrilling victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament over Arizona State, the Frogs will face the number 3 seed in the West region in the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Led by prolific post scorer Drew Timme and long-time head coach Mark Few, the Bulldogs again have one of the best offenses in the country but can be prone to giving lots of points on the other end.
By the Numbers:
- Conference: WCC
- Conference Tournament: 2-seed, W vs. Chicago State, W vs. San Francisco, W vs. Saint Mary’s
- NCAA Tournament so far: 3-seed, W vs. GCU
- Overall Record: 29-5
- NET Ranking: 6
- Strength of Schedule: 60th
- KenPom Ranking: 7
- Quadrant 1 Record: 6-4
- Best Win: Alabama 100-90 (neutral site)
- Worst Loss: LMU 68-67 (at home)
- Leading Scorer: Forward Drew Timme: PPG: 20.9 FG%: 62.4%
- Leading Rebounder: Forward Drew Timme: RPG: 7.3
- Assist Leader: Forward Drew Timme and Guard Nolan Hickman: 3.2 APG
- Team Shooting: FG%: 52.9% (1st in the nation) 3PT%: 38.7% (11th in the nation)
- Team Shooting Defense: FG% against: 44.4% (216th in the nation) 3PT% against: 34.7% (239th in the nation)
Expect the game on Sunday to be a high-scoring affair as Gonzaga ranks first in the nation in terms of points per game with 87.5, but ranks 261st in total team defense, letting up 72.9 points per game. They run most of their offense through the post with Drew Timme being the offensive leader in most statistical categories. They have done a good job surrounding Timme with shooters to kick the ball out to when he is double-teamed as 4 players in the rotation that average near or above 40% from deep. Julian Strawther is especially dangerous from three as he is averaging 42.9% on over 5 attempts per game. The Frogs will need to be efficient on offense on Sunday to keep up with this prolific offensive attack from Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs were part of a thrilling race for the top of the WCC with Saint Mary’s as they split their regular season matchups with the Gaels and were the 2-seed in the conference tournament before going on to win the tournament championship. The loss to LMU was their only bad loss on the season as their only other losses were to Baylor, Purdue, Texas, and Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga struggled a bit with their first-round opponent in GCU as the Bulldogs only lead by 4 at halftime before going on a 16-0 run in the second half and riding a double-digit lead into the final buzzer. GCU had success attacking the perimeter defense of the Bulldogs as two of their starting guards combined for 36 points on efficient shooting.
Matchup with the Frogs:
The matchup with Gonzaga will be a huge test of the Frogs’ defenders individually as well as Jamie Dixon’s ability to gameplan and adapt. The uniqueness of TCU’s defense against Drew Timme will be their ability to throw different post defenders at him to try and keep him off balance. Expect both Xavier Cork and Emmanuel Miller to get opportunities to defend Timme with Cork providing more length and a more difficult defender to shoot over, while Miller represents a faster defender with better hands to potentially tie up Timme before he is able to get a shot off. Micah Peavy could get opportunities to defend Timme as well. Although Peavy is undersized, Dixon could use him to front Timme and deny him the ball since Peavy is a great athlete that could intercept or deflect entry passes to the post. JaKobe Coles is the last TCU defender to be potentially matched up with Timme as he has been playing a lot of small ball 5 to stretch out opposing defenses. Dixon will need to change up the looks the Timme is getting defensively to hopefully keep him out of rhythm. Damion Baugh is an underrated X-factor for TCU in this game as he has a knack for anticipating passes out to shooters and intercepting them leading to a fast break. While Timme is tied for the team lead in assists, he is somewhat prone to turnovers as he averages 2.6 per game. Baugh and the rest of the TCU perimeter defenders need to stay alert and take advantage of potential turnovers from Gonzaga as well as limit jump shots off of kick-out passes.
Offensively, the TCU guards will need to have a good game as they will have ample opportunities to attack and create shots against a below-average Bulldog defense. Getting Timme involved in the pick-and-roll defensively would be a great way for the Frogs to try and get him into foul trouble and get easy buckets as he is not great at defending on the perimeter. Mike Miles will need to be in attack mode once again and should be the perfect player to attack Timme as he is especially adept at drawing contact and getting to the line. The small ball lineup with Coles as the 5 should be TCU’s best offensive lineup since Timme would be forced to guard a perimeter player.
This game has the potential to be the highest-scoring game of Mike Miles’s career as he will face a defense that is vulnerable to shot-creating guards. Miles took on the alpha mentality against ASU as he willed the Frogs back into the game, attacking the basket and drawing fouls if he wasn’t finishing at the rim. I think he does the exact same thing against Gonzaga and has even more success as he will be facing a worse defense. I think Cork plays good defense on Timme and slows him down just enough for the Frogs to advance with Miles going for at least 30 points.
TCU 85, Gonzaga 80.